Workplace Success – What You Need to Know this Week

Sep 16, 2014
4 Min Read

Here are three stories people are talking about this week.

1. Is the 40-hour work week dead?

Technology was supposed to make our work lives run more efficiently, but as anyone who’s ever been expected to answer work text and emails at 11 p.m. knows, it’s just expanded the number of hours work has seeped into our lives. But a new study from virtual meetings software company PGi shows just how much this is true: It finds that more than 88% of American professionals have typical workweeks that exceed 40 hours. About a third said that they work between 41 and 50 hours, and 20 percent said they work more than 50 hours each week. 71 percent say they bring work home at least weekly, and about 25% saying they bring work home at least four days a week. A new Gallup study also just released confirms these findings, with full-time workers reporting that they spend 47 hours a week at work, and salaried full-time workers spending 49 hours.

But before you get too depressed, read on to our next item…

2. Taking more vacation days might help you get ahead

Internal research at the audit firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) found that employees who use more vacation days actually ended up with better performance reviews. “For each 10 vacation hours a person took, we found on average that performance reviews were 8 percent higher," they reported. Vacation also helped with employee retention; employee stays at the company increased by eight months for every 40 hours of vacation time taken. While the research would need to be replicated in other environments to be conclusive, it has interesting implications for the benefits of recharging away from work.

And speaking of performance reviews…

3. The word men don’t hear in performance reviews but women do

High-performing women employees are far more likely than their male colleagues to be called “abrasive” in their performance reviews, writes Kieran Snyder in a piece in Fortune that adds to a growing body of evidence on how women are perceived differently in the workplace. When she compared evaluations of high-performing men and women, most of the criticism men received in their reviews was "heavily geared towards suggestions for additional skills to develop.” Women received development suggestions too, but – unlike men – they also were frequently told to speak up less, be less abrasive, and not be as assertive. “This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women,” Snyder writes.

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